LIVE TO GIVE "Give To Relationships”
By Pastor Delbert Young
Life Gate Ministries, November 1, 2009
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728
I want to talk to you today about learning to GIVE TO YOUR RELATIONAHIPS. So much of life is experienced with friends and relationships. Friends and relationships are people who impact our lives in a large way. God brings friendships into our lives, but not only to have fun.
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who STICKS closer than a brother.
We all know a friend will be there with us in the good, successful times, but sometimes, through our own demise, we have the potential to ruin our own lives. Even blood relations will leave us, but true friends will stick closer than blood relations.
God gives us friends and relationships to help, support, and encourage us through the tough times of life. We all hit tough times along the way and it’s your friends who will be there for you. WE NEED TO THANK GOD FOR OUR FRIENDS. I want you to stop your mind for a moment and ask, “Who has stuck with me through my tough times?” That’s your friend. If you are going to have those “stick closer than a brother” relationships, you must give to your relationships. However, many people only take from a friendship. Their attitude is “What can you do for me?”
Proverbs 14:20 The poor are SHUNNED even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.
Some people are “shunned” by everyone even by people who should never avoid them. Why is that? It’s because some only take from relationships. The rich have many friends because they understand the value of giving. If they are going to get back, they must first give. That’s one reason they are rich.
There was a man I knew who was very poor in meaningful relationships. He had a history of taking from every relationship he encountered. He drew the life, joy, and energy out of me. He always had a problem or a major crisis he had to talk about. He talked all the time and left no place for true conversation. I found myself if around him in a group, attempting to sit at the other end of the table. I dreaded seeing his number on caller ID. By the time I got away from him, I was emotionally spent. Those type people only take from friendships.
Don’t misunderstand me. We all have problems and crisis. We all have bad days, but if you do that all the time to people, you have a serious problem. You are not going to have good lasting friendships. I will tell you something your acquaintances and family will not tell you. People don’t want to hear about your problems all the time. They have enough problems of their own and they dread to see you coming because they know you are about to drain them again. You’ve got to deal with your “What can you do for me?” attitude. You’ve got to learn how to LIVE TO GIVE TO YOUR FRIENDSHIPS.
A great way to learn this is by realizing every relationship you have is an “EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT.” I have an emotional bank account with every relationship I have including my spouse, my children, my relatives, my friends, and even my acquaintances. Every time I see someone, I am either giving to that relationship account, or taking from that account. Exactly like a bank account, I can overdraw as did the person I related previously. Exactly as so many people go through life overdrawing their financial bank account, many go through life overdrawing their relationship accounts.
Proverbs 19:7 A poor man is SHUNNED by all his relatives - how much more do his friends AVOID him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.
If all we do is take, take, take, even our own relatives will not help us and avoid us. We’ve got to make certain we GIVE TO our relationship accounts.
How do we GIVE TO FRIENDSHIPS, or as we are using the illustration, make deposits into an emotional bank account? Amazingly, some of the simplest things make big deposits to our account. One of the biggest ways is to simply TAKE TIME AND GO OUT OF YOUR WAY and do something you should do anyway. For example, walking across a room to speak to someone, shaking their hand and smiling makes a deposit into that account.
I had gone through a very embarrassing and stressful time and didn’t want to go anywhere, but had to go to the funeral home. A very successful and well known man in the community who I was sure knew of my situation, saw me, walked across the room, shook my hand and stood there talking to me for a long time. The simple fact he went out of his way to make me feel important added big to his account with me, my wife, and all who saw him do that. That simple act added to his account trust and respect from us.
If you compliment someone, it gives to that account. If you tell a coworker, “You do an outstanding job. You are really good at that,” you made a deposit. Tell your husband, “I appreciate what you do for this family. You take care of us.” Tell your wife, “I love you and I want to thank you for making our home a home.” “Well Delbert, I told her two years ago I loved her.” So, you haven’t made a deposit into your account for two years? Don’t wonder why you don’t get a smile and a kiss when you come home. Your account is overdrawn.
Make deposits into your children’s accounts by spending time with them. One of the largest ways I make deposits into my children’s account is when they know I have things I need to do, but instead put my children first. When my children were small, I spent time with my daughter taking her to dance and going to her special occasions. I coached my son in ball and spent time doing guy things with him. They are older now, but it’s the same. I give to them by cutting out time for them. I heard just the other day from one of my children, “Thanks for taking time to come by.”
We make deposits and give to relationships with friends by doing small things for them, but one great way to make huge deposits is by overlooking a fault. I am thinking about someone who really messed up once. He came to me as his pastor, but also as his friend and confessed. He thought I would condemn him and make him jump through hoops of repentance. Instead, I showed him I loved him deeply and overlooked the mess-up.
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love COVERS over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 17:9 DISREGARDING another person's FAULTS preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.
We are like God when we can cover and disregard faults and sin. That man has stuck with me and been there for me through every crisis I’ve encountered for twenty years. He will do anything for me because I made a huge deposit into his account.
Maybe a coworker had a bad day and was rude to you by getting upset and saying something mean. Instead of retaliating, overlook it. The next day when he apologizes, simply say, “Don’t even think about it. You were having a bad day.” You just made a huge deposit and remember, one day you will have a bad day and say something mean. You should already have plenty in your account to cover yourself.
I have one friend who calls me every week simply to bless me and encourage me. Once he asked me to do something for him to bless his sons and grandson. It took lots of time and effort for me to do it, but I didn’t think twice. I said, “Certainly I will do that for you.” Afterwards, he thanked me over and over and even today thanks me for doing that. It was no problem at all. He had plenty to cover it in his account with me.
We also make withdrawals from our accounts and the primary way is by our selfishness. Selfishness always takes from our accounts. When we use a relationship only for what we want, it massively withdraws from the relationship account. Not taking time for people is a biggie. When you are in such a hurry you pass someone without smiling or speaking, you just took a hunk out of the account and it doesn’t matter if your mind was someplace else or you were being rude. That person lost respect for you.
Years ago, before I went into the ministry, I was working a 12:00 midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift. A man worked for me on whom I had made a tremendous impact. It was because of me he came to Christ and made other life-changing decisions. One morning his car would not start. He waited by the entrance for me to come out knowing I would give him a ride. I came out, got into my truck, and drove right past him never noticing he was standing there. I was building a house and my head was already working on that house. I didn’t even see him. That night, Billy would hardly talk to me. Finally, I asked him what was up never expecting to hear what I heard. He began crying as he told me what I had done. It hurt him deeply. He said, “I love you like a brother and you just passed me right by.” He said I looked right at him. Of course, I apologized and tried to convince him I didn’t see him, but it was too late. I lost respect and Billy’s opinion of me was damaged. I had to work at giving back into Billy’s account and I did.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at ALL TIMES, and a brother is born for adversity.
We take from any relationship account when we refuse to love at all times and forgive. By continuing to bring up some offense, you will rapidly deplete and quickly lose that relationship. We need to love at all times, even when disappointed in the relationship.
Not keeping your commitments will deplete from a relationship account no matter who you are or what reason you give. When you tell someone you will do something, but you don’t do it, you made a huge withdrawal from your relationship account. You showed yourself as not trustworthy and not dependable.
Years ago, a young boy, for some reason, was staying at our house. It was time for his parents to pick him up, so I called his dad and his dad told me he would be there in a few minutes to get his son. I told the boy what his father said. The boy looked at me saying, “He won’t come. He will send mom or someone else, but he won’t come.” I’ll never forget those words or the look in that young man’s eyes as he told me that. I questioned him a little about that statement. “My dad always tells me he’s going to do something, but he never does any of them.” He was sadly accurate. In a few minutes, his mom showed up.
We make withdrawals from our relationship accounts when we don’t express appreciation for what people do. Sometimes we take things for granted. We don’t say, “Thank you…” I catch myself being weak on this. There are so many people here at Life Gate who GIVE their time and talents to make things work. I so appreciate every one of them, but frequently I forget to tell them. Not expressing appreciation for what people do for us is a real withdrawal from any emotional relationship account.
Keeping your relationship account with a positive balance will always provide you with plenty of mercy when you make a mistake, but too frequently, the account is too low or overdrawn. When this happens, the small, seemingly minor issues magnify. This can happen in any relationship – spouse, children, friends, coworkers, etc. It’s then you find yourself walking on eggshells. You find yourself guarding every word, or hardly speaking at all. You feel tension when around the person and the smallest of things turn into big situations often bringing explosions. That means you’ve overdrawn your relationship account.
Let’s say, for example, you correct your teenage daughter. Suddenly, she erupts with, “Who are you to tell me anything? I’m not going to listen to you. I will do what I want and you can’t stop me.” From where did that come? Your relationship account is obviously empty. Let’s put what she said in other words. “You haven’t taken interest in me lately. You haven’t supported me. You haven’t spent time with me lately. You haven’t let me know I am important to you. Your relationship account is empty with me.” You haven’t made any deposits, but you are trying to make withdrawals and there is nothing in there.
Let’s face it, if you are a parent, you will need to make many withdrawals. It’s the same if you are a leader, supervisor, employer, or in any situation where you must correct. When the correction doesn’t go well and blows up, it’s frequently because we have overdrawn the account. Realize in most situations, even with our children, explosions don’t happen overnight. There have usually been lots of withdrawals and no giving/investing to the relationship account.
Back to the teenage girl, you, as a parent, have the right to correct anything and the child should obey the “honor your father and mother” command, but it just doesn’t always work that way. Simply because you are the parent doesn’t mean you will say anything you want and not get back some resistance. We often forget the remainder of the passage.
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right… (v.4) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Parents, the way you avoid the “wrath” of your children is by making deposits that nurture, encourage, and affirm your children. If you expect to speak effectively into your child’s life, you must be certain you have given more than enough deposits. Ask yourself: Have I encouraged her? Have I complimented her? Have I shown interest in what she is interested? Have I taken time, sat down, and had a one-on-one encouraging, positive conversation in the last few days without trying to give correction? You may say, “Well, I buy her clothes, feed her, provide her transportation, and put up with her music, isn’t that enough?” How’s that working out for you? If you have an angry child, obviously not! She sees you are doing those things to get her to do what you want. In reality, though you are giving, you are withdrawing from your account with her. She needs your affirmation.
I read a story about a man whose relationship with his son was very bad. The man realized he needed to fix the relationship. His son loved baseball, but the dad could care less about baseball and the son knew that. However, the dad asked the son if he would like to take a month to travel across the U.S. together and watch every major league baseball team. It was an offer the son could not refuse. The dad took a month off work, INVESTED that month into his son, and reconnected. When a friend of the dad’s heard what he did, he said, “That was extremely expensive and you don’t love baseball that much.” The dad said, “No, but I love my son that much.”
If you are going to be successful with relationships at any level, you must learn to GIVE TO RELATIONSHIPS. Thank God for your friends, but also thank your friends for their friendship. You need to stop being selfish. Every relationship you have is an emotional relationship account. You are giving into the account or taking from the account with every encounter. To have friends, you must show yourself friendly. Learn to give and keep a positive balance. Overlook faults. Give mercy. Stick with your friends. One day you will need mercy and someone to stick with you.